Opportunistic Scaremongering

In 2008, the animals rights group PETA was lambasted for a new ad campaign.

Although the billboards were quickly taken down, the ridiculous article discussing the supposed link between autism and milk remains on the group’s website. Steven Novella and a columnist for the Telegraph (among others?) seem to have just discovered the article and mistaken it for a new campaign. Still, it’s worth noting one thing the Telegraph columnist said about the PETA article. He called it “opportunistic scaremongering.”

This is a common tactic of activists. More recently, anti-biotech activists have been claiming a link between GMOs and autism. Many who are zealous about a cause turn into opportunistic fear-mongers. And that, combined with the media’s penchant for alarming stories, seems to be harmful to people’s health.

9 Responses to “Opportunistic Scaremongering”

  1. Conqueringlion says:

    When I saw the headline I thought it was going to be an article about how Western governments use scare tactics to advance elite interests; terrorism, bank bail outs, crime etc etc

  2. mem_somerville says:

    Maybe it’s not new, but these things are freakin’ zombies. They rise from the dead on social media and start making the rounds among the faithful really quickly. And there are new folks seeing it via that route. So it has to be addressed, again. What else can you do? Let it go?

    Same thing yesterday with a cancer hoax email that claimed to be from Hopkins.

    And again, this is the place we find ourselves. No amount of calm, reasoned, informative, self-affirming knowledge that the scicomm professionals want us to use stops this manure from being spread again.

  3. Tom Scharf says:

    Trying to think of another glaring example of opportunistic scaremongering that makes the news cycle almost every day…..

  4. Uncle Al says:

    Do you breathe through your nose? All the filth in the world – including what other people sneeze out – is rocketing into your brain. Only rectal breathing can liberate you from lifelong debility and death.

    Pulsed Extreme Toidy Anasphyxia or death. It’s your choice to make the right choice, our choice. Anybody who disagrees is thereby proven unqualified to comment. Through our efforts the intelligent can be remedied.

  5. Bearpants42 says:

    This is why I only feed my baby Mt.Dew

  6. Keith Kloor says:

    Heh, heh, I knew I could count on you to wonder aloud about that.

  7. EthanCooper says:

    I worked with children and adults with autism and other disabilities. Some people have had a reduction in symptoms when they change their diets. I think it’s perfectly fine that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals put out the information that cutting out dairy products may help reduce symptoms. I mean, obviously PETA doesn’t agree with the way cows on dairy farms are repeatedly impregnated and have their babies taken away from them within days so people can take the milk. So of course that is PETA’s mission, to encourage more people not to drink it. But if the information helps people suffering from autism, I don’t see how that is a bad thing.

  8. JH says:

    “some people have had a reduction in symptoms when they change their diets”

    Some people respond to treatment with placebos too. That doesn’t make placebos an effective treatment.

  9. Eriel Ramos-Pizarro says:

    Same gun, different shooter, different target

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